University of Notre Dame

The Art of Using Language

Course Number: PSY 13181-2
Instructor: Kathleen Eberhard

Language is a uniquely human skill. No animal communication system approaches the complexity and expressive power of human language. As the linguist Steven Pinker (1994) aptly pointed out, simply by making noises with our mouths we can shape the thoughts and behaviors of others with exquisite precision. We will review psycholinguistic and linguistic research and theory about speakers’ knowledge of their language at the levels of phonology (sounds), semantics (meaning), syntax (grammar), and pragmatics (communicative intentions). Using Sedivy & Carlson’s (2011) book, Sold on Language, we will explore how advertising strategies exploit each of those levels to persuade consumer’s choices, opinions, and behavior.

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November 09 Majors Night